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Guest Posts, healing, parenting

How My Father Taught Me I Was Not Beautiful

June 7, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Heidi Paulson

My parents split up when I was nine. A tender age where everything is up in the air anyway, from your laugh, to your smile to the way you walk in the world. A very pliable age.

It wasn’t long before my Dad starting looking around for women to date. All kids want is for their parents to be happy. My brother and I watched as Dad would ogle women in the grocery store, say certain things and join social groups to be around more possibilities. Before the divorce, I hadn’t thought much about attraction, dating and how people actually got together. You have your Mom and you have your Dad, and they walk around the house and feed you.

It was back in the 80’s. The internet was just a figment of Al Gore’s imagination. The only way to meet people was at work, church, through friends or by writing a personal ad in the Willamette Week newspaper. We did not attend church, so Dad wrote an ad. I remember when the letters came pouring in. Dad sat with me on the couch and showed them to me. All interested women responding to his classified.

It is here where the damage began. He would shuffle through the letters; the ones with the photos were kept the others thrown away. Then the next tier of decision making began. I am sure he did read the letters as a stroke of his ego; however the next cut would be made by looks. “She’s pretty, we will keep her.” It went on and on. He started to date, and meet these women. Sometimes, if he liked them very much they would come and meet us.

A pattern soon emerged. Blondes. Tall blondes, that were thin. It was his preference. Mom had been blonde when they got together, bleached hair like straw, but blonde. In good shape from tennis.

I came along after a number of years. Dark, dark brunette hair, blue eyes that turned to hazel. Actually I have the coloring of my Dad. My Mom thought I was beautiful, she loved the contrast of my pale skin and dark hair, “My Snow White,” she said. Your Mom is supposed to tell you that you hung the moon, so I put it aside as just another reference point.

Dad’s years of chasing blondes wore on me to where I could not even look at blonde women without feeling inferior. Ugly. I had no blonde friends, as I instantly felt like the ugly stepsister of the group. I was also petite, so the vision of the tall blonde, blue eyed women was the polar opposite of what I was. And in his eyes that was beauty. No room for someone like me to be “Beautiful.” Continue Reading…

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